The Minnesota Vikings played at the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football on September 14th. The Eagles won by a score of 34-28 to improve to 2-0 on the season, while the Vikings fell to 0-2 to start their NFL 2023 season. There was a lot of speculation (from others, not me) that the Vikings were going to win the NFC North again this year and make the playoffs. So, why are they 0-2 right now, what can they do to fix it, and what will likely happen over the next few weeks of the season for the Vikings?
First and foremost, Kirk Cousins is NOT the problem in Minnesota. Through the first two games of the season, Kirk-O is 64 of 88 (72.7%) for 708 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT and Quarterback Rating of 98.1. Yes, Cousins had a fumble against the Eagles last night when he was hit from behind in the pocket, but that only leads to other problems that the Vikings have. First is their offensive line, second is their total turnovers for the season, which is now at SEVEN (4 from last night, and 3 from week 1), and third is their running game.
O-line is Just Offensive
What’s the real problem? The Vikings offensive line looks broken so far this year because the problems weren’t addressed in the off-season. Kirk Cousins was the third most sacked QB in 2022, and their front office did absolutely nothing to fix this weakness. All of Minnesota’s starting offensive linemen this year were also starters with the Vikings in 2022. Minnesota didn’t draft anybody helpful, and they didn’t sign any free agent replacements. Personally, I thought they should have gone after Guard, O’Cyrus Torrence, who went 60th overall in this year’s draft, but apparently it wasn’t on Minnesota’s radar.
Vikings LT Christian Darrisaw had a very good year last year, but this year he hasn’t been playing the same, and now he’s questionable with an ankle injury. LG Ezra Cleveland wasn’t good last year (PFF Rating of 73.5) and he’s even worse this year (61.3). The same decline goes for Center, Garrett Bradberry and RG Ed Ingram, who is, honestly, just terrible. Sure, Ingram is only in his second season, but last year he posted a PFF Rating of 57.1 and was 1st for sacks given up. This year Ed is at a PFF Rating of 46.2. RT Brian O’Niell is the only one pulling his weight on this O-line. Last year he posted an 82.7 PFF Rating and so far, this year he’s at 86.4.
If I’m in the Vikings front office, I’m holding some quick Offensive Line tryouts, and I’m making that known to this current O-line group. I’m inviting Centers Ben Jones and Astin Blythe, Gaurds Dalton Riser, A.J. Cann, and Andrew Norwell, and Tackles Taylor Lewan, La’el Collins, and Eric Fisher. They can NOT be worse than what you currently have, Minnesota.
Running Game is Sputtering
Another obvious issue for the Vikings is their running game. I said it in the begging of the season when Minnesota didn’t want to re-sign Dalvin Cook, that you can NOT get rid of a guy who accounted for 70% of your total ground attack. That is a GLARING hole in Minnesota’s offense as Alexander Mattison now has a total of 19 carries for 62 yards in TWO GAMES. When you win 11 games in 2022 by a single score, how important do you think it is to have a running game that you can rely on? Answer: You’re now 0-2 this season…both games were lost by one score. Could it be because of the poor offensive line play…or is it in ADDITION to the O-line issues?
My prediction for the Vikings for this season is that Kirk Cousins will be traded before the deadline for a handful of picks, and they will try to “out-tank” the Cardinals for a shot at Caleb Williams in the 2024 draft. Minnesota’s next six opponents before the deadline of October 31st are the Chargers, at the Panthers, the Chiefs, at the Bears, the 49ers, and at the Packers. They will not win more than two of these games. At BEST, the Vikings will be 2-6, and they very well could be 1-7. Minnesota has no decent QB option for next year, so they will trade Cousins to a team who is still in contention, but who may have just lost a QB due to injury. Maybe if the Jets play .500 football over the next six games and aren’t confident in Zach Wilson…? Will Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa, and/or Matt Stafford all stay healthy this year? Either way, the Vikings will officially start rebuilding next year, and their GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will either be on the hot seat or be fired outright.
Obviously this is not the outlook that Vikings fans would have anticipated after just two weeks into the season. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Minnesota has not drafted well the last few years, they haven’t been able to sign any decent free agents, and they’ve lost key players. Better luck next year, Minnesota, and thanks for the “read”!